He showed mettle long before Va.

John Steadman

November 19, 1990|By John Steadman

Dismiss, for the purpose of making a point, one of the 10 most momentous upsets in University of Maryland football history. Beating the University of Virginia, the eighth-ranked team in the country and a 23-point favorite, shouldn't be included in the assessment of whether the coach, Joe Krivak by name, is worthy of being retained.

Put that game, as glorious and unexpected as it might have been, aside. Under no circumstances does it need to be influential in deciding if Krivak gets a new contract or is told he's fired. How terribly unfair that would be.

Krivak proved long before his team responded with a shocking defeat of Virginia that he can coach, handle players and recruit against odds that have been stacked against him. It's unfair to isolate on the season finale of 1990. Suppose Maryland had lost the same way as two years ago, 24-23, to Virginia on a play most observers believe the officials missed?

Would another defeat by Virginia have been reason for tying a tin can to good ole Joe? An emphatic no. So the victory, by any measure of reasonable thinking, doesn't deserve to be used for him any more than a loss should be used against him and allowed to determine his future.

An assessment of Krivak needs to be figured on the type man he is, the respect he has from other coaches and his own players, plus how well he works within the rules and regulations of the university. Krivak scores high in all personal and professional evaluations.

Maryland should be proud to have him, if for no other reason than the depth of his character and the way he carries himself. Despite playing the 10th toughest schedule in the country, his team gave competitive performances against highly favored rivals, the likes of Michigan, Penn State, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Virginia.

When the Maryland basketball program brought so much unfavorable attention to the school, a dark and ominous shadow was cast upon the entire university. The student body, faculty, alumni and citizens of the state were embarrassed ad infinitum. But Krivak and what he was doing with football didn't bring dishonor to Maryland or taint its name in any way.

No recruiting violations were charged against him. The man and his team were found to be pure, which can't be said for all of Maryland's coaches in the past. Krivak represents the good that's sought but not always found among the leaders college sports. There's impeccable trust and honesty, two characteristics that should be basic but, again, not all coaches reflect those ideals.

In fact, Dr. William Kirwan, president of Maryland, has said, as a member of the presidents' council within the NCAA, that a coach of high personal standing should be able to hold a job, regardless of the won-lost record. Krivak fulfills what Kirwan talked about.

His teams play pleasing, wide-open football, which makes them enjoyable to watch, even if they don't always win. The fact Maryland home crowds have fallen off cannot be charged against him. The selling of tickets is not his department.

Maryland needs to hire an imaginative marketing director who is going to help induce the public to come to Byrd Stadium. Krivak has enough to do studying films, running practices, meeting with his assistants and formulating game plans. He can't be expected to knock on doors to see if his friends and neighbors have subscribed to season ticket plans.

But do you hear Krivak putting the rap on the athletic director or the publicity man or members of the Terrapin Club? No, he just keeps holding to the course, refusing to blame the players for losses and standing up to face volleys of criticism, much of it unfair. It all provides a reflection of the type of first-class individual he is.

There has never been a football coach who was such a genius he could mastermind the ball down the field. Not Rockne, Yost, Stagg, Bryant, Robinson nor any other deity you might want to nominate. The question that needs to be asked is this: Has Krivak extracted the most out of the athletes he has been able to recruit? A resounding yes. And there's further substantiation if you use the National Football League selection system as a measuring stick, since only five Maryland players were even drafted the last two years.

Joe Krivak is unappreciated, capable, unappreciated, trustworthy, unappreciated, decent, unappreciated, talented and, excuse the redundancy, unappreciated.

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